Friday, November 30, 2012

How much History?

When Jane Austen wrote her books, she did not include any of the stirring events of the day, despite that a great war raged, and social upheaval was rife.

Unless Georgette Heyer was writing about that great war, she did not often include the notable events of the early nineteenth century in her stories.

Until now, I have, for the most part, followed in their august footsteps. But when Shakoriel and I began to consider an illustrated book, it occurred to me to use history in a new way in my writing. And The Regency Storybook came about.

We already had the pictures for our book. A few years ago, Shakoriel did twelve line drawings of Regency fashions, with reference to original sources, and we published the "Fashions of Regency England Colouring Book". Then in the last year and a half, she painted the pictures digitally, and they have been offered for sale as frameable prints.

When we did the Regency colouring book, the people modelling the fashions had so much personality that, just for fun, we gave each of them a name. Now as we approached The Regency Storybook, we needed only stories to accompany the pictures. But the stories needed a cohesive focus. It seemed to me that the notable events of the era offered that focus.

We all can name events in our own time that have touched our lives to a greater or lesser extent: 9/11, the moon landing, deaths of famous people, encounters with celebrity, etc.
I began to reflect on how the events of the extended Regency era must have touched the lives of the people, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. And so the stories came together.

Anxious Miss Phoebe Churcham is in the street, unusually alone, when the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval occurs at the Houses of Parliament.

The Dowager Marchioness of Lavington visits her old friend Maria Fitzherbert at her new Steine House; Captain Benjamin Shedfield is missing for a week after the Battle of Waterloo; the death of the Princess Charlotte affects the entire family of Tabitha, Lady Newick -- it all led to our tagline "Twelve people, twelve historical events, twelve stories".

In his story, Sir Aubrey Granthorpe goes in search of Miss Austen's new book, Mansfield Park, though he has never heard of Hatchard's, and has a horror of bookstores in general.

I hope I have done justice--in about 2,000 words each--to the Regency events I have chosen. It was a fascinating experience in writing, weaving important factual events with fictional characters. History always frames my stories but seldom in such an immediate fashion.

This is the first of my books to be in print as opposed to an ebook format. An ebook version of The Regency Storybook will be available from Uncial Press in the fall of 2013.

The aim of Shakoriel and I was to produce a beautiful book, a gift book--in the tradition of storybooks for all ages--and yet one with some depth of storytelling. We hope we have succeeded.

'Til next time,

The Regency Storybook is available from Amazon Createspace,, and Shakoriel's Etsy shop. A limited number of autographed copies accompanied by frameable mini-prints of the artwork is also available from Shakoriel's Etsy store online.

1 comment:

Anne Gallagher said...

This is absolutely beautiful. You should be so proud!